CLEVELAND -- Robin Ventura finished a deserved third in the 2012 American League Manager of the Year voting behind Oakland's Bob Melvin and Baltimore's Buck Showalter. With the White Sox surprising success, Ventura received plenty of accolades for his calm and cool leadership.
Now, with the team sitting 21 games out of first place in the AL Central and 26 games under .500 following Thursday's 6-1 loss to the Indians, the 2013 focus on Ventura centers much more on the negative. In the course of one season, Ventura has gone from the manager the White Sox needed to the manager who should be on the hot seat.
General manager Rick Hahn strongly disagrees with that particular assessment.
"You're free to point your fingers wherever you feel it's appropriate," said a pointed Hahn, when asked during a Thursday morning interview on WSCR 670 AM, the team's flagship station, if it was time to point fingers at Ventura for the lack of sharpness and cohesiveness with this disappointing team. "In reality, the effort hasn't changed.
"The level of communication and energy hasn't changed. If anything, it's increased as they attempt to stem this tide and improve the performance of this disappointing season."
Hahn added that if the effort, focus or message to the players had changed or disappeared, then ensuing staff changes would be made.
"At this time, we don't feel changes are merited in the near future," said Hahn of Ventura and his coaching staff.
While maybe Ventura received a slightly larger share of credit for the team's success in '12, both Hahn and Ventura understand that sharp criticism comes with major failure for the men in charge.
"It happens. That's just part of being in this job, and I think it's not easy," Ventura said. "I'm the one in charge and you just have to take it. It doesn't change my focus on what we are trying to do or win games or teach or anything like that. It's just part of having the job.
"We are continuing to work at it. You are trying to be positive and that's probably the hardest part right now."
Ventura has constant communication with Hahn, from big picture to specific game events. He admitted that the present focus is more about big picture.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.